June 11, 2011

Children's Rights: To Be Taught Prayer

Recently, I read a blog post that discussed parents' lax attitudes towards teaching their children to practice Islam. Some think it best to push and force their children to get the best grades or get into the best schools, yet when it comes to teaching them about praying their daily prayers, among other things, they feel it's best to let children "come to things on their own."

Not only is this approach detrimental to the child but it is also the opposite of what we're supposed to be doing.

As a Muslim parent, teaching our children to pray is not a option that we can choose or not choose as we like, but an obligation set by Allah, the Most High, in the Qur'an.

In Surah Ta-Ha, verse 132, Allah tells us, "And enjoin prayer on your family and be patient in offering it. We do not ask you for any provision, We provide for you, and the good end is for those with Taqwaa."

Commenting on this verse, Ibn Kathir says in his tafsir, "This means to save them from the punishment of Allah by the establishment of the prayer, and you also be patient in performing it."

The Prophet Muhammad, salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, also commanded us to teach our children to pray. It's narrated in Abu Dawood, that the Prophet said, "Order your children to pray when they are seven years old. And beat them to it (i.e. spank them if they refuse) when they are ten. And separate them in their beds (at ten)."

The importance of teaching our children is not just to fulfill our obligations as Muslim parents, but also to encourage our children to seek a good end in front of Allah, inshaAllah.

In his work, The Prayer and its Effect Upon Abandoning Sins and Developing the Soul, Ibn Al-Qayyim mentions a hadith reported by At-Tabaraanee in which the Prophet, salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam says, "The first thing for which a servant will be held to account is his prayer. If it is correct and sound, all the rest of his actions will be correct and sound, and if it is corrupt then all the rest of his actions will be corrupt.”

Ordering our children to pray must be coupled with educating them as to why we pray, what the benefits of praying sincerely for the sake of Allah are, and what the consequences of not doing this can be.

In his book, Raising Children in Light of the Qur'an and Sunnah, 'Abdus-Salaam bin 'Abdillah As-Sulayman speaks of the long term benefit of ordering our children to pray and the consequence of not doing so. He says, "If a child is raised having love for the prayer and being conscious that Allah is watching him, he will grow up pure, clean and righteous, by Allah's will. This is since the prayer calls away from immorality and evil. So neglecting it and being lazy with regard to it is the worst form of abandonment. And there can never be a proper upbringing or well-being for your child after the abandonment of prayer."

In Establish the Prayers and the Prize is Paradise, a collection of sayings regarding the prayer, a beautiful example is given of Mu'adh ibn Jabil, radi Allahu anhu, advising his son to pray. Mu'adh ibn Jabil said, "My son! Pray the prayer of he who is just about to leave and imagine that you might not be able to pray ever again. Know that the believer dies between two good deeds, one that he performed and one that he intended to perform later on."

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